Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev, the icons of the game, World Cup winners for India but wait, they aren’t included in the all-time best World XI of former England great Geoffrey Boycott!
Speaking at a private function in Mumbai, Geoffrey was asked to pick his best eleven and much to everyone’s surprise, he did not pick even a single Indian, arguing he cannot choose anyone among them for the sake of pleasing the audience.
Contemporary of Gavaskar, Boycott said he admired his game to a large extent and felt he is a nice guy off the field too. Even Gavaskar’s 10,000 Test runs didn’t earn him a place in Boycott’s XI as the latter feels the Mumbaikar played on well prepared tracks and not on those of stones, where W.G. Grace and Sir Jack Hobbs did.
“I CAN’T GET IN THE TEAM MYSELF. GAVASKAR WAS A WONDERFUL PLAYER AND FRIEND. CAN I PICK HIM AHEAD OF GRACE AND HOBBS? GRACE’S NUMBERS WOULD LOOK RUBBISH WITH 30 SOMETHING. BUT YOU CAN’T COMPARE WITH TODAY WHERE WICKETS ARE WONDERFULLY PREPARED. BACK THEN, PITCHES WERE FULL OF STONES. THEY WOULD HAVE TO WAIT TILL 2 PM TO MAKE THE PITCH DRY. TODAY THEY WOULD GET MAD IF THEY ARE GIVEN WET WICKETS.”
Having picked two Englishmen as his openers, Boycott went with Sir Donald George Bradman and West Indies’ George Headley to fill the third & fourth place. Agreeing with Bradman’s inclusion without much doubt, Boycott explained why he went for Headley instead of many others, who had a better record under their belt batting at the same position.
“GEORGE HEADLEY MAY HAVE PLAYED ONLY 20 SOMETHING GAMES BUT THEY CALLED HIM ‘THE BLACK BRADMAN’. HE PLAYED AT A TIME WHEN WEST INDIES WERE NOT DOING WELL.”
Moving further, former England batsman towed two more West Indians in his line-up, Sir Vivian Richards and Sir Garry Sobers. Showering praise on Kapil Dev and Sir Ian Botham, Boycott said they both were at par with all-rounders of their generation but would still sit behind the great Sobers, emphasizing on the impact of his game during that era.
“KAPIL DEV WAS A WONDERFUL BOWLER. SO WAS IAN BOTHAM. BUT I CAN’T PUT THEM AHEAD OF SOBERS. IF YOU WANT ME TO BE NICE BECAUSE I AM IN INDIA I WOULD PICK FIVE INDIANS BUT THAT’S NOT ME.”
Pakistan legend Imran Khan too made the list, and not only that, he is also captain the side chosen by Boycott. He believes the extrovert characteristics of Imran and his ability to handle the players does justice to his decision.
Of the many Indian spinners who graced the game over the generations couldn’t find the spot for themselves in the list too.